Left Justified: Eulogy for Roger Uliano

My good friend just shot himself through the heart. Roger Uliano: retired Guilford teacher, good friend, a former member of SDS, an Italian, and a founding sponsor of the local chapter of Vietnow. He had a ready smile, muscles on his muscles, and a perpetual tan. I envied him for his lovely female companions. Once, when the Nazis came to Sinnissippi Park, Roger and I confronted them. The Hitler-loving, uniformed fascists with their flags and hate-filled speeches were on our bandshell. To their left were the Progressive Labor Party of Chicago and Nutsville, just as loud and stupid as the Aryans, with weirder-looking punk hairstyles. Roger and I were two of the few liberals who faced fascists head on. They’d attracted 14- and 15-year-old kids who came to listen. I had no ideas, but Roger brought these little yellow felt triangles and, with straight pins, fashioned Stars of David and attached them to shirts, then walking among the youths, he explained what the Nazis did to the Jews and other “untouchables.” The police, meanwhile, were separating the Nazis from the Commies and keeping them from beating each other up. Rockford’s liberals were in a park on the other side of town praying for insight. But here was Roger Uliano teaching a new generation of would-be radicals what tolerance was. He used laughter and some little bits of cloth to show love rather than hate. So why couldn’t he love life? His friends had just taken him to dinner to “cheer him up” and then dropped him off at his farm with his horses, his collectible cars, his memorabilia from the ’60s, and most likely, his gun collection. And they woke up the next morning to find their friend had shot out his heart. It’d have been easier if it were Nazis who shot Roger through the chest. Then we could track that felon down and prosecute so there wouldn’t be any more killing. But what killed Roger was in his mind, and even more so, in his own heart. And how do we track that down and lock it up so no more die? I ask God, that higher power sometimes on our lips, to accept this soul, this little light on earth, who tried to do good. May we all try to do good. Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

One thought on “Left Justified: Eulogy for Roger Uliano

  • Sep 4, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    I just found this 13 years after Roger killed himself. I was his Danish friend joining him to Rosebud to the Sundance and to Little Big Horn. Thank you. Why is the date: 1.Julæy 1003, because he died 29. sept. 2003?

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